It is twenty years since the South African authorities agreed to free Nelson Mandela. For years, Mandela was the leader of the struggle for equality for his people. He served twenty seven years in prison, convicted of sabotage and other crimes amounting to terrorism and treason.
After his release he became President of his country and led it through a period of reconciliation. Former enemies joined together to make a future that is hopeful for all.
Mandela’s statesmanship, his ability to forgive and lead others to forgive, and his commitment to the freedom and rights of all peoples are things that are badly needed in many parts of the world at this time.
World In Need works in many places where freedom, rights and reconciliation are in short supply. In conflict areas such as Iraq and Afghanistan it is all too easy for people’s rights to be trampled as various factions vie for supremacy. In the Congo and Northern Uganda people are violated and gang rape is seen as a legitimate weapon of war. Even if the conflict is resolved and the attacks stop, freedom and reconciliation are not easy to bring about.
In these places, World In Need works to alleviate the effects of man’s inhumanity to man. We sponsor children, run day care centres, help widows set up co-operatives so they can earn a living. For example, in Afghanistan, we helped women set up a carpet making co-operative, and we import the carpets to the UK, where we sell them on their behalf.
In Uganda and the Congo, where girls and women are routinely raped by enemy combatants and boys as young as eight are forced to become soldiers, fighting, killing and maiming, World In Need provides counselling, therapy and a safe loving environment in which they can begin to heal.
Mandela showed us that we can overcome conflict and hatred and learn to live together for the good of all. We should all work to spread his vision far and wide.